Can Acupuncture Help Endometriosis?

Breeze Academy August 3, 2023
Woman in pain

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Some women are more severely affected than others, particularly in terms of pain and discomfort. In this article, we look into an alternative endometriosis treatment that may offer low-risk, drug free pain relief. 

So, can Acupuncture help with endometriosis? Acupuncture is unlikely to offer a cure, but research suggests that it may provide pain relief, particularly in mild to moderate cases. Typically, clients will need 1-2 sessions of acupuncture over 6-8 weeks to see results.

Read on to learn more about Acupuncture and endometriosis with Breeze Academy.

Does Acupuncture Work for Endometriosis?

Acupuncture will not necessarily cure endometriosis, but it may offer relief from the systems of the condition, namely pain relief. A number of studies (1, 2, 3, 4) published between 2011 and 2018 documented that the pain associated with endometriosis can be reduced with Acupuncture. One study went as far as saying that Acupuncture may be more effective than other complementary therapies such as exercise and yoga. However, it is important to recognise that all of these studies stated that more research is needed into Acupuncture for endometriosis to confirm the findings and fully explore its effectiveness. 

Alongside pain relief, other experts claim that Acupuncture may also offer the following benefits:

  • Improved immune function  - studies show that Acupuncture may increase the immune system response by supporting the immune system. Acupuncture appears to increase a type of white blood cell that attacks abnormal tissue; some claim that this may benefit endometriosis lesions. 
  • Decreased cellular oestrogen levels - one study reported that Acupuncture may suppress a type of oestrogen that is often highly present in endometriosis cells. Some claim that Acupuncture may suppress the growth of endometriosis tissue.
  • Decreased inflammation - CA-125 is a blood marker that is often associated with high levels of inflammation and is typically elevated in those with endometriosis. A 2017 study found that Acupuncture may reduce the levels of this marker.

How Many Sessions of Acupuncture Do You Need for Endometriosis?

It is recommended that endometriosis patients begin with an initial course of treatment that lasts 6-8 weeks with 1-2 sessions per week. After this initial course, the practitioner would review the client’s condition, any changes and note any results. This would inform future sessions.

For example, if a client noticed significant improvement over the initial course of treatment, the practitioner may then recommend twice monthly sessions to maintain the benefits. However, it’s important to note that this will not always be the case; practitioners will review treatment schedules on a case by case basis.

What are the Best Acupuncture Points for Endometriosis?

In 2019, a study found that Acupuncture reduced pain levels and overall disposition in endometriosis sufferers. The researchers used the following Acupuncture points:

  • CV3, 4 and 5
  • ST25 and 36
  • GV20
  • LI4
  • LV3
  • KI3
  • SP6 and 9
  • Zi Gong Xue
  • Ah Shi

How Acupuncture Compares to Conventional Treatment

The conventional treatment for endometriosis pain is over-the-counter painkillers and NSAIDs. Where this doesn’t provide the desired relief, hormone therapy is sometimes recommended. This includes the use of hormonal contraceptives, progestin therapy, aromatase inhibitors and Gn-RH agonists and antagonists. Should hormone therapy not work, surgery may be required to remove endometrial tissue. 

For milder cases of endometriosis, where surgery is not yet being considered, Acupuncture may offer an alternative to Western medication. This is particularly beneficial for those that can’t, or don’t want to, take painkillers. Alternatively, it may also work in conjunction with both conventional and other complementary therapies to maximise the results.

Generally, Acupuncture is low-risk with minimal side effects providing that a qualified practitioner is used. 

Acupuncture for Endometriosis - Risks and Side Effects

Side effects of Acupuncture tend to be rare and mild when they do occur. Patients may experience the following side effects after treatment on occasion, but when conducted by a qualified practitioner, tend to be minor, short-term, and self-correcting.

  • Pain, bleeding or bruising at the needle point
  • Feeling faint or dizzy

Acupuncture is typically low-risk, but those with the following conditions should take precaution and consult their primary care physician before proceeding. 

  • Pregnant women
  • Those with uncontrollable movements or epilepsy
  • Those with spinal instability
  • Needling on scars, keloid, recent wounds or skin with sensory deficit
  • Those with blood disorders or those taking anticoagulant medication
  • Those with a pacemaker
  • Those that have had a stroke
  • Those with diabetes
  • Those with immuno-suppression
  • Anyone with undiagnosed or unclear medical conditions
  • Those with an abnormal physical structure

Learn more about Acupuncture contraindications in our blog, Is Acupuncture Safe?, where you’ll learn more about absolute and relative contraindications as well as risks and side effects, and how Acupuncture compares to Western medicine.

Final Thoughts

Acupuncture is unlikely to offer a resolution to endometriosis, however a number of studies suggest that it may be an effective treatment in managing the pain associated with the condition, particularly in more milder cases.

If you’re a healthcare professional interested in offering Acupuncture for individuals suffering with endometriosis, take a look at our Acupuncture courses online today. 

Our foundation-level Acupuncture courses are available throughout the UK, giving you all the knowledge you need to safely and effectively practise Acupuncture. There are also a number of more advanced CPD Acupuncture courses available to take your skills to the next level. 

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